In a new series I am starting on here, I will be talking about nutrition for vegetarians/vegans. First off I shall go through the vitamins in alphabetical order. Todays post is Vitamin A!
What is Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is also known as Retinol. It is a fat soluble vitamin that helps to keep many parts of our body healthy including our:
- skeletal tissue
- mucus membranes
It also produces pigments in the retina of our eyes (hence the name Retinol)
What food sources contain Vitamin A?
You can only find pre-formed vitamin A in animal based sources. However do not fear as veg*ans can easily get their daily amount from plants. Our bodies are clever and can convert carotenoids into vitamin A. Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments. They are (in most part) responsible for all the vibrant colours that our fruits and vegetables come in. The carotenoid that is most common in our diets is beta-carotene.
Carrots, pink grapefruit, apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, peas, sour cherries, to name a few are all good sources of beta-carotene.
Your mum was right, carrots do help you see in the dark!
A general rule is the brighter the colour of the fruit or vegetable, the higher the beta-carotene content.
What is the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of Vitamin A?
The DRI is 900 RAE for men and 700 RAE for women. RAE means Retinol Activity Equivalents (which is just fancy science talk and is equivalent to 900/700 μg)
Some examples of how much you can get from certain fruits and vegetables:
(All are per 100g of each food)
- Carrots - 835 μg
- Sweet Potatoes - 709 μg
- Kale - 681 μg
- Spinach - 469 μg
- Pumpkin - 400 μg
- Cantaloupe - 169 μg
- Apricot - 96 μg
There is a nice chart on this site: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=106&tname=nutrient just scroll down to “Food Sources”
Any side effects?
Deficency can lead to a weaker immmune system and poorer vision.
Over consumption will not harm you in a serious way if you are veg*an because our sources are from beta-carotene. The side effect of too much beta-carotene is carotenodermia, which is when our skin starts to turn a yellowish tint. It can easily be reversed by stopping the over consumption of beta-carotene.
And thus ends vitamin A! I hope you enjoyed it and the next addition will be B1.
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